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andee's world: January 2008

andee's world

Hello and welcome to my blog. This space will be devoted to opinions, observations, lists, articles and whatever else I feel like posting. Subjects will include music, human nature, politics, life in NYC, etc. If I paste someone else's writing up here, it is because the author said something way better than I ever could. By the way, I don't claim to be a particularly smart guy; I'm just a musician with some opinions. If you disagree with me, that's cool -- but then, you're probably wrong.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Biggest Assholes of the Year -- by Bill Maher

Rolling Stone the headline.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Why I Love New Yorkers

I'll get to the I Love New Yorkers part in a minute but first I have to say, HATE the goddamn MTA.

This past Saturday night, I was on my way to Don Hill's too meet a friend. Transferring from the L train at the 6th avenue/14th street station, I ran down the steps to the Downtown 1/2/3 platform around 11:15 to find a train waiting with the doors still open -- score! I jumped on the train, the doors closed and well, you know what happens next. The train starts hurtling UPTOWN. Express, no less. Great. So much for being on time.

Now, I had carefully read the "Weekend Service Advisories" email that the MTA helpfully sends me each week and there was no mention of this (nothing about the L train running on one track Friday night, either). Our transit system S.U.C.K.S.

Anyway. At 34th street I disembark the wrong-way train and run across to the Downtown platform and once again, there's a train waiting to go. I run aboard and sit down.

The car was pretty full, being Saturday night and all. Sitting to my left was one of these schizophrenic types you've seen a thousand times in this city, seemingly in his own bubble, babbling and shouting at no one in particular, having a screaming match with the voices in his head. I pay him no mind. It always seems to be the best policy and besides, I've never seen one of these guys actually engage another person and to that extent I've always considered them harmless.

However it turned out this guy wasn't harmless. He stood up suddenly and started screaming at this poor little Asian dude. It was a bunch of incomprehensible gibberish, but the guy suddenly seemed alot less innocuous.

A big fellow who was standing nearby told the crazy dude to sit down and leave the kid alone. Then Schizo started yelling at Big Guy, and even took a halfhearted swing at him. Big Guy says, "I'm bigger than you are. And I'm telling you to sit the fuck down."

By now people on the train are watching. I myself am keeping an eye on the action by way of the reflection in the window, rather than staring directly at the combatants. Schizo is standing with his back to me and I'm still seated. What happened next was a total surprise, to say the least.

From out of no where, Schizo wheeled around in a flash and punched yours truly right in the nose, full strength. I put my head down between my knees. As blood streamed out of my face onto the floor of the subway car (along with my nose ring, as I found out later), the car erupted. People were freaking out on Schizo, and asking me if I needed help. The train pulled into a station about half a second later.

I had my head down to keep the blood off my clothes and didn't catch all the action but Schizo was swiftly ejected from the train as soon as the doors opened. I looked out the window and saw that it was 14th street and decided I'd better get out so I could transfer to the L train and go back home.

Out on the platform, Schizo had vanished, but strangers came up to me offering tissues, water, a walk to the hospital, whatever. I didn't think I needed to go to the hospital but I walked up to the newsstand guy for some napkins so I could mop up and look less like Sissy Spacek in Carrie. Another group of people saw me and said, "who did that to you?! you want us to go get him?!?" I politely declined. I wasn't in the mood for a manhunt; I just wanted to get home and clean up, which was what I did.

I know that people wouldn't necessarily have been that helpful in other cities. It's a shame that New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude because the truth is that they keep to themselves, but when you really need it, they will back you up in a heartbeat. I have English friends who have said that while the Brits are lovely and polite, they are not ones to get involved in a conflict like that; someone gives you trouble on the tube and you're on your own.

It was incredibly cool of Big Guy to step in on behalf of the Asian kid. He didn't have to do that. It was awesome to have total strangers willing to suddenly drop all their plans to give me a hand.

Any time I've ever been in trouble in New York City (and it always seems to be on the 1/2/3 line, incidentally!), someone has
always come to my aid. Every single time.

New Yorkers fucking kick ass. Thank you. time you see one of those crazy dudes on the train, go sit in another car.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Soundtrack to My January

Roisin Murphy's second solo album, Overpowered is more streamlined than anything she ever did with Moloko, and lyrically more personal as well. Artful and totally transcendent dance-pop from one of my favorite divas.

goes out with a bang. Al Jourgensen's got a fine band of co-conspirators here, including Tommy Victor of Prong, the late, great Paul Raven (Prong, Killing Joke) and Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory. Ministry has fortified my life for many years and it's a little sad to see them go. But boy do they make a racket on the way out.

Speaking of making a racket. MC5's live Kick Out the Jams is a record that for some reason I've never owned til now. Generally cited as one of the sparks that touched off the punk rock firestorm, KOTJ is a gloriously messy blur of fuzzed-out hard rock that is so pungent and humid it makes your speakers sweat.

Chronology of a Love Affair
is an album of cover songs, circa 2001, by the veteran goth band Love Like Blood. For me, LLB were at their unparalleled peak when guitar virtuoso Marc Wheeler helmed the band way back in the early '90s and they've never recaptured the magic of albums like An Irony of Fate and Oddyssey since. Still, it's a kick to hear these guys pay homage to their heroes, predictably including Bauhaus, the Sisters, and Fields of the Nephilim (and not-so-predictably, Type O Negative, Tiamat and Marilyn Manson).

The new Cocteau Twins compilation Lullabies to Violaine is pure heaven. It collects all their EPs in remastered form and strings 'em together in chronological order. Music very rarely gets better than this.

Big Black
. The very name strikes fear into the heart, doesn't it? This collection basically takes the crushingly seismic Atomizer LP and adds some singles and stuff at the end. I wouldn't be surprised if the aforementioned Jourgensen heard this album in his formative years.

Ren and Stimpy
. Every bit as funny as I remembered them. You EEEEEEDIOT!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Revisiting a Winter Classic

Moloko; I Am Not a Doctor (1998)

I don't know if it's the wintry cover art or that fact that I first got my teeth in to this record in the cold months of 2001, but for me, I Am Not a Doctor is an album best heard after the second solstice.

Somehow this mind-bending English band (based around the core duo of producer/instrumentalist Mark Brydon and vocalist Roisin Murphy) doesn't even have an American record deal, so you're gonna have to scour Ebay to find most of their stuff. Believe me, it's worth it. I've been following this group ever since the delectable Eartha Kitt-by-way-of-Parliament romp "Fun for Me" got its hook up my nose in late '97.

It's pure folly to try describing music like this because it's just its own thing. I could tell you that Moloko throw quite a bit of slinky electronica, idiosyncratic pop, funk grooves, skittery drum-n-bass beats and even sophisticated jazzy harmony into their pot, but I don't know that reading that pile of adjectives and vague genre signposts will prepare you for the experience of hearing them.

Of course a huge part of Moloko's magnetism is Murphy, a chanteuse with a voice and sensibility all her own, equal parts purring coquettishness, inscrutable weirdness and wicked, cagey intelligence. As divas go, Roisin's as good as it gets, thoroughly captivating and totally unique, not only recorded but onstage (check out the band's live dvd, 10,000 Clicks and see for yourself).

I Am Not a Doctor is blessed by the indispensable "Sing It Back" (a great house remix of which appears at the end of the band's third album, Things to Make and Do), plus the lovely, luxurious "Caught In a Whisper," the near-jazzy "Downsized" (think Chaka Khan meets Autechre) and "Blink," with its nervous electronic rhythm track and near-menacing vocal and synth textures.

Moloko: joyful, smart, catchy, oblique, soulful, bizarre, danceable. What more do you want?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Some Fantastic Discs that Have Graced My Player of Late:

First of all, I do still buy CDs.

I cannot will myself to reduce my entire music library to a bunch of invisible, anonymous, digital files on a hard drive. I can't, I WON'T!

I love the artwork, the liner notes, the tangible representation of the music. Plus, my CD collection has never crashed, but my hard drive probably will. I want the hard copies, dammit.

And now,

Dillinger Escape Plan with Mike Patton -- Irony Is a Dead Scene

First of all, amen to that title. I am so tired of people hiding behind irony. Stand for something and stand for it loud, bitches! Being snarky and noncommittal is for poseurs.

Anyway, let's talk about how f*cking uncompromising this music is. Let's talk about what a restlessly imaginative talent Mike Patton is. You know what? Let's not talk about it, let's just listen. My favorite is the cover of Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy." Music to destroy minds everywhere...

-- Sympathy for the Devil

Who remembers this album? I gotta thank my friend Joe for returning this one to my consciousness. I remember first hearing it around 1990 or 1991 and being right perplexed by these eight mischievous re-imaginings of the Rolling Stones staple. It sounds pretty dated now but good fun just the same.

Husker Du
-- Zen Arcade

The power and the fury, how they bleed forth from this music.

Luscious Jackson
-- In Search of Manny

This is my first time hearing this record. I've been a casual fan of Luscious Jackson over the years without ever digging in too deep; I remember "City Song" ruling my world in the fall of 1994 and I nursed a mild obsession with "Ladyfingers" a few years ago (I even covered it myself) but past that I can't say that I ever got fully bitten by the LJ bug.

But man, this record is a fun one! These four gals had something special in the beginning of their career -- a funky, urban, sexy, 70s-referencing milieu all its own, which is best evidenced here, on their debut ep.

Ciccone Youth
-- The Whitey Album

Madonna covers, a little "Addicted to Love" karaoke with Kim Gordon -- what's not to like? Even Mike Watt's in there.

-- Mantary

You may know Sioux from a little outfit called the Banshees. And if you're a mega-fan like me then you're thrilled to hear the woman sounding this engaged (and looking phenomenal) at age 50. Hell, I'd say this is the best thing Ms. Dallion has recorded since the late 80s. Inspiring.

Dug Pinnick
-- Strum Sum Up

On a similar note. Many of you know who this guy is (but not nearly enough of you, I'm afraid). One of the greatest rock singers on the planet, Dug Pinnick has been transporting listeners to full-on hard rock nirvana as the lead singer/bassist for King's X for 20 years now. He's a legend. This, his first proper solo record, finds the man in fine, loose form and great voice, effortlessly rolling off disarmingly personal, simple lyrical sentiments over mighty, mighty riffs and grooves that combine Sly Stone and Sabbath in a way that only Dug can. Guest appearances by Alain and Natasha (Eleven, Queens of the Stone Age), Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) and others only sweeten the pot. Sounds like it was alot of fun to make.

-- Friend Opportunity

It's never a bad thing when you're at a total loss for words to describe something. I gotta get back to you on this one.

-- Double Nickels on the Dime

I'm not gonna pretend to be a Minutemen expert. I'm not, and you may as well hear about them through some more informed scribe like Michael Azzerad. But I've been grooving to Double Nickels lately and what amazes me is how clear, focused and determined the band sound, and how much power emanates from their minimalism. Jamming econo indeed.

Living Colour
-- Collideoscope

Sadly, many people only know Vernon Reid and Living Colour through their admittedly awesome and barrier-bashing smash hit "Cult of Personality" (now further immortalized by its inclusion in the almighty Guitar Hero canon). Truth is, the band have made a fistful of powerful rock records over the years (and have managed to collect a few Grammys in the process). Collideoscope, their latest, addresses a post-9/11 world gracefully, but with much anger and sadness. God bless them.

Blonde Redhead
-- 23

This record's gotten a bit of flak I guess; not that critics matter a damn, but some of them (and some regular people too) think the veteran NYC trio have gotten preoccupied with a newfound flowery production style and lost some of their edge and immediacy. That may be true, but how can you argue against a record as gorgeous as this? Jeez, the band's been 100% uncompromising for ten years now. Let them do whatever the f*ck they want.

Patti Rothberg
-- Candelabra Cadabra

Patti is the real deal, through and through. She is sly and clever while being heartfelt and truthful at all times. She knows how to channel all the best things in classic rock (Bowie, Zeppelin, Patti Smith) and new wave (Duran Duran, Missing Persons) without ever sounding derivative. It's pure Patti. I can't wait for the new album.